Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University

Remembering Judy

Judy Mitchell, front and center for the College of Education

As news of Judy Mitchell’s death sank in, I remembered that last week’s blog post featured her in a convergence of two of her happiest roles: ambassador for the College of Education, and sports fan. She was pictured at a fund-raising event for the Martinez Foundation,  standing beside WSU’s President Floyd at Safeco Field.  The photo above shows her with other faculty members, applauding a spring arts celebration starring Pullman students.

Judy was kind, smart, strong-willed. A tough cookie with a warm center. Just the kind of person I like as a boss — although, when I once used that word to introduce her, she chided me. She didn’t explain, but I’m sure the description wasn’t collegial enough for her.

You’re welcome to use the comment function on this blog to share your own memories, and/or e-mail them to Your thoughts will be shared with Judy’s family. Perhaps I should say: Judy’s other family. — Julie Titone

WSU’s president to teach higher ed seminar

WSU President Elson S. Floyd will be teaching a higher education seminar this fall.   In a budget year like this one, might he include some stress management techniques as part of his advice to College of Education grad students?

Dean Judy Mitchell and President Floyd in Seattle
Dean Judy Mitchell and President Floyd

Dr. Floyd, whose three degrees are in education, was on hand earlier this month for “Latinos in Beisbol Day” at Safeco Field, when the Martinez Foundation raised about $13,000 through ticket sales and a silent auction.  The Seattle Mariners have agreed to host the fund-raising event to promote minority teacher education again next spring, and the foundation has  scheduled an Oct. 3 fund-raising gala. Watch the foundation’s Web site for details.

Meanwhile, the first Martinez graduate fellowship winners in our Master in Teaching Program have plunged into their classes in Pullman.  They are Anna Ochoa Rivas, Shannon Gleason, Elida Guevara, Kevin Takasaki and Jenna Visoria. There are also five Martinez fellows each at the University of Washington and Seattle University.

Alumna wins First Citizen prize
Florence Wager
(B.Ed. ’54) was honored this month as Clark County’s First Citizen for 2009. The award, presented by the Community Foundation in Vancouver, recognized her advocacy for parks, recreational opportunities and healthy communities.  Reports the Vancouver Columbian: At one point during his presentation, foundation president Rick Melching cued 35 members of the audience to stand:  Each person was holding a sign bearing the name of a park that resulted from Wager’s activism. Later, Melching highlighted Wager’s role in chairing a task force that will eventually produce 250 miles of local hiking trails and bike paths.  Wager also has thrown her support behind the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, the Vancouver Symphony and the YWCA.  “In 30 years of public service, I’ve never met anyone like her,” said David Judd.  And Wager, 81, has done it all since retiring.   For more information and a profile link, see our alumni news.

Share and share (books) alike
The Vancouver campus recently added a teaching endorsement in education for the hearing impaired.  Much, as it turns out, to the benefit of students in Pullman.  The Brain Education Library at Cleveland Hall received copies of all the books purchased to support the new program, reports head librarian Sarah French.  The titles run from the pragmatic (Psychosocial Aspects of Deafness) to the intriguing (What’s That Pig Outdoors?: A Memoir of Deafness).

Reading matter
Draft Literacy Bill Would Boost Funds for Older Students The measure calls for a fivefold increase in funding for grades 4-12 and an emphasis on writing along with reading. (Education Week)

A science educator extraordinaire

John "Skip" Paznokas

He may look devilish in this photo, but Skip Paznokas is definitely an education angel.

The College of Sciences reports that he has retired.  Well, sort of.  Skip, whose WSU duties included teaching science methods to our secondary education majors, soldiers on at the side of his wife, Lynda Paznokas, working hard on behalf of science education.  In May, the dynamic duo organized a regional conference for college-level science teachers in Spokane.  Focused on sustainability education, it was supported by a $85,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant.  Now, the Paznokases (Paznoki?) are hurrying to get ready for the  second annual Math Science Partnership workshop, which will bring K-12 teachers to Pullman from June 22 through July 2.  (BTW, the photo was taken at last year’s workshop, when Skip was standing in front of a projected image.)

Skip co-founded Washington’s Teachers of Teachers of Science, and is the driving force behind an equipment loan program that gives teachers access to expensive and hard-to-maintain lab equipment.  The College of Sciences put the perfect headline on an article about the endowed equipment fund named in his honor:  Skip Paznokas is passionate about helping teachers in any way possible!

Teacher redux
Did you read in WSU Today about another fine science educator, Jim Williamson?  Jim is featured because one of his long-ago third grade students showed up again, this time in Jim’s master of teaching program courses.  The M.I.T. grad-to-be, Andrew Larive, is a swell guy who looks good in a hat.

Ferrucci legacy continues
Dr. Vitt Ferrucci, a WSU alum with a passion for education, died June 1 at age 90.  A former WSU trustee, he’ll be remembered especially at the College of Education for his generosity in establishing the Ferrucci Award that provides a fellowship each summer to a math or science teacher.  (Watch for news about this year’s scholar, Rena Minks of Pullman.)  From Dr. Ferrucci’s obituary:   “Ferrucci, a veterinarian by trade, spent an extraordinary 38 years on the (Puyallup) School Board. He was appointed in 1957, the year the Russians launched Sputnik, and was re-elected nine times before stepping down in 1995, the year the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed.”

Change across the state line
Paul Rowland, dean of the University of Idaho College of Education, will become the new executive director of the Kentucky-based Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.   WSU College of Education Pullman employees will remember Paul’s wife, Ann Rowland, as a former colleague in the School & Community Collaboration Center.

Reading matter
One room, many stories
Making the Grade: Plucky Schoolmarms of Kittitas Country was published this spring by Washington State University Press.
Subject-Matter Groups Want Voice in Standards The thousands of teachers who belong to math and reading associations  worry they are being ignored in the setting of national standards.

Of elders and youngsters: Native education in the spotlight

On Tuesday, inside Cleveland Hall’s Clearinghouse on Native Teaching & Learning, distinguished visitors were urging faculty researchers to involve elders in curriculum planning.  “I’m really interested in those tribal values,” said Wendell Jim “Walsax” (’84), a member of WSU’s Native American Advisory Board, said. He worries that vital cultural knowledge will be lost to the ages. “Those elders, they’re going.”

Leadership campers Vanessa Hillman, left, and Jaycee Goudy show off headbands they made from T-shirt sleeves

Meanwhile, 56 teenagers were on campus for the fifth annual Leadership Development Camp, a collaborative effort of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the College of Education.  The teens are here for a week, learning to blend their heritage with an expanded view of the world, learning to take charge, learning to cooperate.  Creating Web pages.  Working hard. Laughing a lot. Tribal elders would no doubt approve.

Tuesday’s campus visit by advisory board members included special recognition for the researchers who produced “From Where the Sun Rises: Addressing the Educational Achievement Gap of Native American Students in Washington State.”  Still to come: Thursday’s (June 11) Hip Hop Show and Awards ceremony.  The leadership campers will show off their singing and writing talents, as well as their oh-so-hip-hop clothes created from recycled materials.

In memoriam
Rudy Johnson was a teacher, principal, Everett School District superintendent and Skagit County’s United Way director. Not bad for a two-time high school dropout,” reads the Everett Herald obituary.  He is also a graduate of the WSU College of Education. Johnson spent 40 years as an educator in Washington and Oregon, climbing the ranks from teacher to principal to superintendent.

A paper water bottle, and other bright ideas
Having a bright idea is one thing; taking it to market is another.  That’s the kind of lesson that comes with the territory for young entrepreneurs who enter WSU’s Imagine Tomorrow competition.  Everett teenager Jordan Steeves has been learning that as he tries to market his prize-winning paper water bottle.  One of its selling points is that it can be recycled.  Only not in his own community.   The list of winning ideas for the 2009 Imagine Tomorrow event is impressive.  (“Alternative Hydrogen Production”? Whatever happened to science fair ideas such as “The Effect of Light on Plant Growth”?)  Also impressive are the are folks who volunteered to help with the Pullman event, including education majors Brinn McKinney, Colleen Heckman and Tiffany Walker.

Reading matter
U.S. Effort to Reshape Schools Faces Challenges
. Arne  Duncan, President Obama’s education secretary, wants to take school turnaround efforts nationwide on a scale never tried before.
K-12 Chief Tapped as Education Dept. Takes Shape As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan fills top spots, his focus is on “real passion” and entrepreneurial spirit.
Students prefer real classroom to virtual world. College students were given the chance to ditch a traditional classroom for an online virtual world. Fourteen out of fifteen declined.

Getting hooded in the Cougar ‘hood

When at long last you’re about to get that doctoral degree and your adviser moves to another university, whatcha gonna do?  For Danny Breidenbach, the answer was easy:  Follow him.

Brian French, left, with Danny Breidenbach
Brian French, left, with Danny Breidenbach

Danny actually left Purdue University in 2008, having completed all but his dissertation, just as Brian French was leaving to accept an associate professorship at our college.  Finishing up at Purdue would have meant having only a nominal adviser at the Indiana school, so Danny decided to graduate at WSU, where Brian could be his advocate.  He’s happy he traveled to Pullman in May to receive his doctoral hood. “Brian has gone over and above the call of duty for me at times, and his efforts inspire me to do my best work. He has a real knack for not merely pushing me in the right direction, but lighting up the path to help me get started,” Danny explained. “Attending that ceremony was also my ‘thank you’ to him — because I know it gave him a sense of accomplishment to ‘hood’ me. ”

Danny works for Applied Measurement Professionals Inc., in Lenexa, Kansas.  (He and Brian are psychometricians, a job description with a hint of sorcery about it, don’t you think?)

A cure for bored kids
WSU Vancouver’s At Home At School program is among sponsors of a Web site that helps children and their parents find summer activities. Read about it in this Vancouver Columbian article.   …. By the way, At Home At School and its recent donation from the Legacy Health Fund are featured in the spring newsletter of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

Moving north
Clinical Assistant Professor Leslie Hall is excited about the new challenges that will come with her transfer to the Spokane campus.  She will be taking on many of the responsibilities of Lenore Schmidt, who retired in May.  Leslie will teach, coordinate the masters in teaching program, and work with Ed.M. and Ed.D. students.

Reading matter
For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’
The greeting is so common, the New York Times reports, that some students complain of peer pressure to hug, and some schools have banned hugging.
Education Secretary Duncan Should Come to Washington State.  A Seattle Times editorial.